Federal grant to help health care in rural areas

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(WBRE/WYOU) — When it comes to health care, where you live can make a big difference. A federal grant aims to improve health care access in rural parts of Pennsylvania.

Three-quarters of a million dollars are being granted here in Pennsylvania. It’s part of a larger mission to improve health care in rural areas across the country.

“One in four Pennsylvanians live in rural areas. And residents living in these areas are more likely to have poor health,” Pennsylvania Department of Health executive deputy secretary Susan Boateng said.

Health experts at the state capitol on Thursday talked about the health issues faced by folks in rural communities. People lacking access and lacking money.

“Do I pay for a prescription vs. eating. Those types of things, health care tends to take a back seat,” Dr. Lawrence Riddles of Lehigh Valley Hospital Schuylkill said.

“Nearly half of these rural hospitals in our state are operating at negative margins, and are at risk for closure,” Boateng said.

The health resources and services administration is hoping to help. They’re providing a $750,000 grant to Lehigh Valley Hospital Schuylkill to develop new rural residency programs.

“Physicians, we tend to stay where we’re trained,” Dr. Riddles said.

Dr. Riddles says this money will help train doctors in rural areas of Pennsylvania, hopefully leading to more physicians practicing in the areas they’re most needed.

“This really is a game-changer for us,” Dr. Riddles said.

The $750,000 will be distributed over a three-year period.

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